Permitted ways to separate

The Permitted method of separating: [1]

Separating the food  from the waste with ones hands to eat immediately: It is permitted to separate food, as opposed to the waste, with ones hands in order to eat right away. [Regarding the definition of right away, see the next Halacha. Regarding separating food from other foods- see Halacha 6.]

The reason that this is allowed is: because to remove food from amongst waste in order to eat right away is not at all similar to any [forbidden form of] work being that doing so is the normal form of eating, as it is impossible to eat the entire mixture, [eating] the food together with the waste, and the Torah only prohibited doing so [separating food from waste while eating when] using its designated vessel [to separate it] which is a sieve and sifter. [See Q&A ]

 

Summary: The permitted method of separating:

It is permitted to separate if all the following three conditions are fulfilled:

  1. One removes the good from the bad
  2. One removes it to eat right away.
  3. One removes it using his hand.

 

Q&A on the definition of what is considered waste/unwanted

May one for whom a certain food is considered inedible separate it for one for whom that food is considered edible, such as to separate the unwanted onions of a salad in order to give them to an onion lover?[2]

Yes, so long as he is doing so for that person to eat right away.

 

May one separate inedible items from food if his intent is to use that item for a certain purpose, such as to remove the bone of a fish in order to use as a toothpick, or to remove a bone to give to a pet dog to eat? [3]

This is allowed to be done for right away use being that since he desires to use it, it therefore is not considered waste.

 

May one remove the waste/food that he does not want with intent to eat some of it or use it, in order to retroactively allow the separating? [4]

No. One may only separate that which he truly desires and it does not help to eat from it if he truly desires to separate it from that which he truly wants to eat.

 

If one does not want to remove the wanted food from a certain vessel, such as that he desires to serve the food in this vessel, how then is he to separate the wanted from the unwanted? [5]

He is to pour the entire dish into another vessel and then remove the wanted food into the original vessel in order to eat right away.

 

Q&A on what is considered separating “using ones hands”

May one use his hand to strain food for right away use?[6]

No as this is not considered the way of eating, and it is thus equivalent to using a strainer. [See Chapter 3 Halacha 1 Q&A]

 

May one separate the food using a fork or spoon and the like?[7]

To remove a food from amongst other solids: Yes, a spoon or fork may be used.[8] Any item which is not designated for separating is considered like one’s hand and is allowed to be used even in a scenario which using a fork or spoon is unusual and is thus recognizably done for the separating purpose.[9] Thus although it is not usual to eat pieces of chicken or meat with a spoon, nevertheless one may separate them using a spoon with intent to eat them right away.

Using the fork to remove a food from amongst liquids:[10] If ones intent in removing the solid is to separate it from the liquid then its laws are equivalent to those of a strainer spoon- See Q&A below.

 

May one separate a solid from a liquid through lifting the solid with a spoon and tilting it against the wall of the pot, thereby draining the liquid and keeping leverage of the solid?[11]

There are Poskim which prohibit this from being done due to doubt that this may be considered like separating with a vessel, as the spoon together with the walls of the pot may be considered a vessel.

 

May one separate through tilting a cup or can and spilling out the wanted or unwanted?

Doing so does not pose a problem of separating with a vessel as it is like one is separating with ones hand. Nevertheless due to the Borer restrictions this is only allowed in specific scenarios as will be explained in Halacha 7, see there at length.

 

May one use a nut cracker to crack nuts, thus separating them from their shell?[12]

This is allowed in scenarios that the breaking of the shells do not separate the food completely from the shells, but rather just breaks them thus giving one the ability to separate the fruit. However in cases that the actual fruit falls out from the shells and is thus fully separated, it is not allowed.

                                                             

Q&A on separating through using a strainer

May one use a strainer spoon [a spoon with small holes made to strain the liquid of the food removed] on Shabbos to remove a food which is within liquid?[13]

No. Such a vessel is considered designated for separation and is thus forbidden to be used to separate any food from liquid if the solid and liquid are designated as mixed. [See Introduction above and Q&A there for the definition of mixed with regards to soup and the like.]

May one use a strainer spoon if no other spoon is available? One is to be stringent to not use a strainer spoon [in cases designated as mixed] even  if no other spoon is available and one simply desires to use it due to lack of choice and not in order to separate.[14]

 

If a pot contains a strainer in its upper part into which the solids are placed into and it then cooks in the liquid, may one remove this strainer with solids from amongst the liquid on Shabbos?[15]

This has the same laws and limitations as does using a strainer spoon, see above.

 

May one pour fruits that are within water into a strainer in order to strain the water?[16]

Those fruits which are small and are thus considered mixed with the water, such as blueberries and the like, may not be poured into a strainer. However large fruits, such as apples and the like, may be poured into a strainer being that they are too big to be considered mixed with the water and thus do not contain the separating restrictions.

 

List of practical Q&A cases in which it is  allowed to remove the waste from the food

May one remove a tea bag from ones cup of tea or does this pose a separating prohibition?[17]

Yes.[18] However there are some Poskim[19] which leave this matter in question.

How is one to remove it? According to some Poskim[20] one may only remove the tea bag with a spoon being that otherwise tea will drip out of the bag into the cup, which may pose a filtering prohibition, as one has in effect filtered liquid from the tea bag.  According to other Poskim however so long as one does not intend to have the bag drip tea into the cup there is no problem in removing it with ones hands even though that it will in truth drip tea into the cup.

 

May one remove a bag of rice from ones Chulent?[21]

Yes.[22] However, according to some Poskim[23] one should only remove it with a spoon in order to prevent any of the gravy that is absorbed in the bag from dripping back into the chulent and thus posing a straining prohibition. Nevertheless those which are lenient in this have upon whom to rely.[24]

 

May one remove bones from fish, or must he remove the fish from the bones?[25]

Small bones: It is permitted for one to remove the small bones that are within fish being that doing so is the form of eating[26]. However one should only do so immediately prior to placing the piece of fish in his mouth as opposed to preparing it prior to the meal [despite that this is still defined as “right away”][27].

Large bones: Are forbidden to be removed from the fish. Rather one must remove the fish from the bone, such as by holding on to the bone and then sliding off the fish.[28]

Bones that have already been removed from the fish: Are forbidden to be removed from amongst the fish even if they are small, as this is no longer the normal way of eating.

 

May one remove bones from meat, or must he remove the meat from the bones?[29]

One may not remove the bones from the meat and may only remove the meat from the bones directly prior to the meal.[30]  This applies as well even if the bones contain marrow as nevertheless the bone and the meat are considered two different foods. However if one desires to suck the marrow as well as eat the meat then obviously one may remove the bone from the meat. [However if one does not desire to eat the meat right away but rather only the marrow then there are Poskim[31] which write that one may not remove the bone from the meat, or the meat from the bone. Nevertheless in a time of need there is no need to be stringent in this.]

 

May one remove skin from chicken/meat/fish?[32]

One may do so immediately prior to the meal.[33]

 

May one pluck a feather from his piece of chicken?[34]

This matter is disputed amongst Poskim.[35] The dispute applies even if one intends to eat the chicken right away after removing the feathers, due to a question of whether this involves the “Shearing” prohibition. Practically one should initially avoid removing feathers from chicken[36], [although those that do so have upon whom to rely if they eat the chicken right away[37]]. This prohibition certainly applies if one desires to remove the feathers in order to make the chicken more presentable to the guests in which case one must take great care not to remove those feathers.

For later use: According to all it is forbidden to remove the feathers for later use due to the Borer restrictions.[38]

 

May one remove the pit of a fruit, or must he remove the fruit from the pit?[39]

The rule: Those fruits which it is the common way to remove the pit from the fruit and then eat the fruit one is allowed to remove the pit immediately prior to eating the fruit. Those fruits which the common way is not to remove the pit from the fruit but rather to eat the fruit with the pit and spit out the pit or to eat around the pit, then it is forbidden to remove the pit from the fruit and one may only remove the fruit from the pit for right away use.

Examples:

  • Peaches, Plums: If it is common for one to remove the pit from the fruit, then one may do so prior to eating.
  • Apricot: Since the pit anyways is loose within the fruit one is to shake out the pit rather then remove it with his hands.
  • Melon/Watermelon: One is to shake out whatever seeds are able to fall out through shaking and may then remove the remaining seeds from within the melon, whether with his hands or with a spoon in order to eat the melon right away.[40]
  • Using special instrument to remove pits: Is forbidden even by those fruits which may have their pits removed as one may only separate with his hands. Thus one may not use olive pitters on Shabbos.

Laws of Muktzah: Removing the pit from those fruits which are allowed to have their pits removed as explained above does not pose a Muktzah prohibition.[41] Nevertheless once the pit has been placed down it is now Muktzah and may only be moved in a case that moving Muktzah is allowed.

 

May one shake inedible seeds/pits out from fruits/vegetables?[42]

One may do so according to all opinions in order to eat the food right away. Thus one may shake a pit out from a date, or the seeds of a watermelon out of a slice in order to eat the date/watermelon right away.

                                                               

Does removing food labels from food, such as from bakery bread, contain the separating restrictions? [43]

Yes. Thus one may only remove it immediately prior to eating the food.[44] 

If one desires to remove the label a while before the meal then he is to cut with it a recognizable piece of the bread/food.

Note: When removing the label one must take extra care not to cut the letters written on the label.

 

Does removing baking paper from cake, Kishkeh, Kugel, hotdogs, and the like contain the separating restrictions? [45]

Yes. Thus one may only remove it immediately prior to eating the food.[46]

 

Does the removing of candy wrappers contain the separating restrictions?[47]

If the wrapper is not stuck onto the candy then one may remove the wrapper without restriction as doing so is similar to removing an item from a box. Nevertheless if one has many candies which he desires to remove from their wrapping then he should only do so in close proximity to their consumption.

If the candy is stuck onto the wrapper then it is similar to peeling a fruit which may only be done in close proximity to eating it.[48]

 

May one remove a rotten/wormy part of fruit/vegetable in order to eat the rest of the fruit/vegetable?[49]

Majority of Poskim allow one to cut it off so long as he plans to eat the fruit right away. Nevertheless it is best for one to cut part of the fruit itself together with the rotten part as doing so adds to the leniency. 

One may not remove the rotten part of the fruit simply in order so the fruit not continue to rot, and he be able to eat it later on.

 

May one remove a worm or other bug from a fruit/vegetable?[50]

Inside the fruit: If the worm is inside the fruit than one may remove it so long as he plans to eat the fruit right away.

On the surface of the fruit/vegetables: If the insect is on the surface of the fruit then it depends. If the insect is not stuck onto the fruit then one may remove it without restriction as in such a case there is no “mixture” of good and bad, as explained above in the introduction. If the insect is stuck onto the fruit then one may only remove it with intent to eat right away.  Nevertheless it is best in such a case to shake the insect off rather than lift it with ones hands. If this is not possible, then one may even remove it with ones hands.[51]


[1] 319/1

[2] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 128

[3] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 128 and 130

[4] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 129

[5] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 130

[6] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 381

[7] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 148-150

[8] So rules Ketzos Hashulchan 125 footnote 24 based on an inference from the Alter Rebbe in the Shulchan Aruch [However see Ketzos Hashulchan 129 footnote 3 where he differentiates between a dry food of which it is usual to separate it with ones hands and thus a spoon may not be used, and between a wet food which is usually separated with a utensil so one does not get dirty.]

So rules also: Minchas Yitzchak 1/76, Igros Moshe, Chazon Ish and other Poskim.

Opinion of M”B: In 319/62 the M”B rules a spoon may not be used to gather the fat above milk even if one plans to eat it immediately. However in 319/66 he contradicts himself and rules a spoon may be used. The Chazon Ish answers this by saying the case of cream on top of milk was an exception being that the spoon helps for the actual separation, while in 66 it is allowed as it is used simply so one does not dirty himself. So concludes also Minchas Yitzchak ibid. See Shabbos Kehalacha P. 148-149

[9] However see previous footnote regarding ruling of Ketzos Hashulchan.

[10] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 359

[11] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 359

[12] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 151

[13] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 151

[14] Shabbos Kehalacha 14/20

[15] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 358

[16] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 358

[17] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 371

[18] This is allowed being that a large item is not considered mixed together with a liquid that it is in, as explained in the introduction Q&A.

[19] Minchas Yitzchak 4/99-2 

[20] Minchas Yitzchak ibid, and so rules Sheivet Halevy

[21] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 382

[22] This is allowed being that a large item is not considered mixed together with a liquid that it is in, as explained in the introduction Q&A.

[23] Sheivet Halevy

[24] This case is even more lenient then the removing of tea from ones cup as here one is anyway interested in eating the rice with the chulent and thus is not benefiting at all from the dripping of the gravy. This is opposed to the case of tea in which one has no interest in the leaves but does in the liquid that is absorbed in it.

[25] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 227

[26] So rules the Tzemach Tzedek in his Piskeiy Dinim on this chapter, and so concludes the Ketzos Hashulchan [125/16] as the final ruling and so rule other Poskim.

However there are opinions [Igros Moshe 4/74] which rule stringently in a case one is able to remove the bones in his mouth. Nevertheless, according to all it is permitted to separate the bones from within the fish for the need of children. [Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 227]

[27] So rules Ketzos Hashulchan 125 footnote 44, and other Poskim.

[28] So rules Mamar Murdechaiy, Biur Halacha and so implies the Ketzos Hashulchan

[29] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 227

[30] As meat bones are large and it is thus not the normal way of eating to remove the bones from the meat as is the case by the small bones which are within fish.

[31] Rav SZ”A

[32] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 229

[33] Although in SSH”K [3/30] [as well as Igros Moshe Orach Chayim 4 chapter 74 Borer/8] they rule that one may remove it even not for right away use being that both the chicken and skin are viewed as the same species of foods being that majority of people do eat the skin, nevertheless one should be stringent in this being that a) today many people do not eat the skin and b) even if the case were that majority of people eat it nevertheless there are people which are stringent.

[34] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 229

[35] The stringent opinion: Is brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 143 footnote 1 in name of the Yeshuos Chachma, and so plainly rules SSH”K  3/30.

The lenient opinions: The Ketzos Hashulchan [ibid] says that the world is not accustomed to be stringent in this and he goes on to be Melamed Zechus bringing four different reasons for why removing feathers of cooked chicken does not contain a prohibition of “Shearing”, and he thus concludes that one should “leave the Jews to do so”. So rules also that it is allowed: Shut Har Tzevi, Yalkut Yosef, Igros Moshe.

[36] So rules Rav Farkash ibid, however the Ketzos Hashulchan rules that the world is lenient in this, and so rules Piskeiy Teshuvos [340/2].

[37] Ketzos Hashulchan 143 footnote 1

[38] As this is similar to the removing of the skin or peel of a fruit which is only allowed to be done prior to the meal. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 340/2]

[39] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 232

[40] So rules Ketzos Hashulchan 125 footnote 43 in name of Ben Ish Chaiy. And so rules Kaf Hachayim [47]

[41] So rules Ketzos Hashulchan 125 footnote 43

[42] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 122

[43] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 239

[44] It is allowed to remove the label, which is the unwanted, as is the law with regards to peeling fruits and the like, that the fruits may be peeled immediately prior to eating it.

[45] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 239

[46] It is allowed to remove the paper, which is the unwanted, as is the law with regards to peeling fruits and the like, that the fruits may be peeled immediately prior to eating it.

[47] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 239

[48] So rules Rav SZ”A

[49] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 195-197

[50] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 198

[51] Removing it does not pose a problem of Muktzah being that a) It is insignificant, and b) it is a Graf Shel Reiy

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